Coffee Break French Masterclass – September 2018

We’re delighted to announce that the Coffee Break French Masterclass will open its doors once again on 1st September 2018, ready to begin the new 6-month course which runs until 28 February 2019.

Registration will begin on 1st August 2018. Spaces on the course are limited, so in order to get on our notification list, please enter your details in the form below. We’ll remind you as soon as the course is available for registration.

To find out more about the Masterclass and what’s involved, please click here for the Coffee Break Academy.

“Merci de” or “merci pour”? Walk, Talk and Learn French Episode 002

Is it merci de … or merci pour…? How do you thank someone for something in French? Join Mark from Coffee Break in this Walk, Talk and Learn French video and learn exactly when to use merci de and when to use merci pour.

This video was based on the phrase Roland Garros vous remercie d’avoir utilisé les transports en commun, meaning “Roland Garros thanks you for using public transport. In the video Mark explains that you can, in fact, use both prepositions de and pour with the word merci, or the verb remercier, but they are used in specific situations. You need to understand what it is you’re thanking someone for in order to know when to use which expression.

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Using “da” + infinitive in Italian – Walk, Talk and Learn Italian Episode 001

You can use the preposition da with an infinitive in Italian to talk about something that has to be done, or that is worth doing. Join Coffee Break Italian hosts Francesca and Mark for this first episode of our new series, Walk, Talk and Learn Italian.

This episode is based on an advert Mark sees in Milan: Hai un immobile da affittare? Dovevivo, il tuo inquilino ideale. This phrase means “Do you have a property to rent out? Dovevivo, your ideal tenant.” As Francesca explains, da + infinitive can be translated in a number of ways. For example, in the phrase ho molto da fare, you can simply translate da as “to”: “I have lots do to”. In other examples, da takes on the meaning of “it’s worth doing something”, for example, Milano è una città da vedere: Milan is a city worth seeing. All will be explained in this episode of Walk, Talk and Learn!

Introducing Walk, Talk and Learn Italian

As we WALK around the streets of Italy, we’ll TALK about the language we see around us, and you’ll LEARN more Italian! Walk, Talk and Learn! Welcome to this new series from the Coffee Break Italian team in which we’ll be helping you build your understanding of Italian and increase your vocabulary through our regular videos. In each episode of Walk, Talk and Learn, we’ll be focusing on a word or phrase in a sentence which we’ve found on a poster, an advert or a menu we’ve found out and about in the streets of Italy.

Meet the team: Pierre-Benoît

My name is Pierre-Benoît Hériaud and I feel very proud, privileged and honoured to say that I have been working with Radio Lingua since the very beginning! ☺

What is your role in Coffee Break?

I have contributed to and helped with creating, producing and recording material for all 4 seasons of Coffee Break French. I am currently working with the team on the “Coffee Break French Reading Club” and cannot wait for new exciting projects coming very soon … Chut! C’est un secret! ☺

What experience have you had speaking and learning other languages?

I studied English and Spanish at the University of Nantes (France) and moved to Scotland when I was 20 and worked as a French assistant in Ayrshire. I settled in Scotland and for the last 30 years, I have been teaching French & Spanish in a secondary school.

I love teaching and I love learning. Every day is a new experience because every class is different and every single person will leave the class with a little more knowledge of the target language. Being involved in Coffee Break allows me to have a wider audience and there is definitely something gratifying and rewarding to know that people have learned, progressed and felt more confident in the language they study, thanks to all the Coffee Break French material that has been published.

Every year, I enjoy meeting our listeners in person at The Language Show and The France Show in London and actually seeing what CBF means to them.

Watch Pierre-Benoît in action at the France Show in this video.


What are your favourite memories of working with Coffee Break?

PASS! Far too many, but it’s been a good laugh and I have enjoyed every single moment working with the team. I guess the most recent one being on the Coffee Break stand at the France Show in London, winding up my younger colleagues and on a more serious note, getting to meet customers and hear how they’ve enjoyed learning French with CBF.

It’s also good to go back to “one’s humble roots” and I can’t help thinking back to the days when Mark started Coffee Break French and came to Pornic to record in my town and even in my house! I believe many episodes feature the voices of my father, my sisters and even my nieces! I guess I’m part of the Coffee Break family just like Mark is part of the Hériaud family.

Where would your ideal coffee break be, and with whom?

It would have to be while teaching Jennifer Lopez how speak French! Or perhaps an espresso with Gérard Depardieu. L’espoir fait vivre…

Not quite a coffee break, but I certainly enjoy a “music break”, so here’s a video of Mark and me performing a couple of our favourite songs, Francis Cabrel’s Petite Marie and Billy Joel’s She’s Always a Woman, recorded in a Facebook live session while in London for the France Show.

What’s your best language-learning tip?

Keep practising – as often as possible and do not get discouraged! I still make mistakes in English, in Spanish –  in French! We all do… Keep going!

Quick-fire round

  • Favourite language: French & English
  • Favourite word/phrase in the language: Pas d’lézard!
  • Favourite film: in English – As Good As It Gets; in French: Le Prénom
  • Favourite destination: anywhere… with nice people.

Any further thoughts?

All the best to all our listeners around the world with their language learning. Keep practising … et surtout, ne vous découragez pas !

Do you know your panenka from your pipoqueiro?

Football fans across the world are champing at the bit. The FIFA World Cup is kicking off and we are here to celebrate this coming together of nations sharing their love for football! People of different languages gather for one common purpose: seeing their country taking home the World Cup.

Whether you are a hard-core football fan or a simple sport aficionado, we have compiled a list of foreign words you have to know for this Football World Championship.

Are you ready? Game on!

1. Чемпионат мира по футболу – Chempionat Mira Po Futbolu (Russian)

Let’s start with the basics. Since Russia is hosting the championship, we should begin with something in ру́сский язы́к – that is Russian language for those of us who cannot read Cyrillic alphabet. The official name for the 2018 World Cup is Чемпионат мира по футболу (Chempionat Mira Po Futbolu). Try to remember it to impress your friends!

If you want some help in pronouncing this long phrase, you should check out our One Minute Russian course – we should all learn a bit of Russian while we follow the World Cup, don’t you think so? We’ve included Lesson 1 below, and to access the full list of 10 lessons, click here.

2. National Nicknames

National football teams are usually called by their nicknames. From the defending champions (Germany/Nationalmannschaft) to the debutants (Panama/Los Canaleros and Iceland/Strákarnir okkar), everyone has an epithet that makes them more memorable to football fans. You may already know La Albiceleste (Argentina), Les Bleus (France) and La Furia Roja (Spain), but what about Les Aigles de Carthage (Tunisia) or Vatreni (Croatia) or even Sooceroos (Australia)? Fans all over the world scream their nicknames when a goal is scored, so make sure to memorise them.

Of course, we cannot forget to mention Canarinho (Brazil), who has won the World Cup five times and has participated to every championship to date! By the way, how do you feel about the absence of Gli Azzurri (Italy) in this year’s Championship? Scandalous.


3. Tiki-taka (Spanish)

If you plan to watch one of Spain’s matches, you may hear this term throughout the game. Tiki-taka refers to a style of play that involves highly accurate short passing (pases y paredes) and guarantees a retaining possession of the ball. The word was popularized by Spanish broadcaster Andrès Montes during the match between Spain and Tunisia in the 2006 World Cup and has since been a signature style of the Spanish National Team.

Will la Furia Roja maintain their tiki-taka? Or will they come up with a new winning strategy? Want to know more about the Tiki-taka? Here’s a video with the best Tiki-takas of 2017!

4. Panenka (Czech)

From one technique to another, Panenka refers to a penalty kick in which the ball is gently chipped into the goal after the goalkeeper has dived to one side of the goal. Coined by Czech former footballer Antonín Panenka, this kick can be obtained by giving a subtle touch underneath the ball, causing it to rise and fall within the centre of the goal thus deceiving the goalkeeper. Here’s some footage of the original Panenka from the 1976 UEFA European Championship Final.

This penalty kick is also called cucchiaio by Italians. The term was coined by Francesco Totti, the historic captain of AS Roma. If the match ends in a penalty shoot-out, we may well see a Panenka or two!


5. Zondagsschot (Dutch)

Sometimes, when you watch your national football team play – especially during a crucial match – you pray for them to score a miraculous goal. That’s what a Zondagsschot is! Literally translated as “Sunday shot”, it refers to a shot that a player would almost surely miss, but unbelievably goes in despite all previsions.

Do you remember the Euro U17 Cup final between the Netherlands and Italy? The Oranjie did score an incredible Zondagsschot!


6. Pipoqueiro (Portuguese)

We don’t think this term can be applied to any of the players from the Brazilian of Portuguese national teams, to be honest. Pipoquiero literally means “popcorn man” and it is used to describe a player that doesn’t play well in important games, like semi-finals or finals. Nobody wants to be that player and we hope no one will be called a pipoqueiro in the 2018 World Cup.

Let’s have some good matches!


7. Sukkerbold (Danish)

From popcorn to sugar, here’s another word that associates food with football. The Danish expression sukkerbold stands for an exceptional cross right at the target man. We are not really sure why the Danes call it a “sugar ball”, but it’s definitely sweet to see footballers play well.

Who do you think will achieve the highest number of sukkerbolde in this World Championship?


8. Bouffer la feuille (French)

This is another thing that no football fan wants to witness when their teams are playing. Bouffer la feuille is a French expression that is used when a player misses an easy goal and also a potential victory. Literally meaning “to fluff the sheet”, it refers to the score sheet where scored goals as well as the various cards dealt and the participating players are noted – this document is usually signed by the captain at the end of every match.

We are sure that si quelqu’un bouffe la feuille nobody will be happy (but if you think of it in French, you might be less angry about it).


9. Den sterbenden Schwan (German)

This one will make you laugh. Do you know what is a “diver”? It’s a player who too easily and too dramatically takes flight in the opponent’s box. Germans describe this kind of player as a Schwalbe, a swallow, and if a player is too much of a diver, they will accuse him of playing den sterbenden Schwan, the dying swan. Let’s face it: sometimes players can’t help but over-act as if they were playing in an opera when they dive. And it can be annoying. But, if you think of it as part of the famous Tchaikovsky’s ballet, you may enjoy their performance.

You may enjoy Die Lustigsten Schwalben der Welt…


10. Tólfan (Icelandic)

The newcomer Iceland must have an entry in this list. During its first participation at the UEFA Euro 2016, this Nordic island has made a name for itself thanks to its Tólfan, (“the 12th Man”) that is the Icelanders and their Viking chant. The supporters clapped and shouted HUH! in unison, starting off slow and gradually building the pace. It’s very intimidating for those playing against Iceland!

The Viking Thunder-Clap has accompanied the national team throughout their European adventure and we are sure the Tólfan will keep chanting in this 2018 World Cup. Here’s how 10,000 fans celebrated the homecoming of the Icelandic team on their departure from the Euro 2016:

Bonus: The FIFA World Cup Film

We thought you’d enjoy watching this preview for a film being made by FIFA called One to Eleven, which brings football fans closer to some of the amazing moments which have made the World Cup so special over the years. The preview features footballing greats speaking in their own languages and there are English subtitles too. Enjoy!

We hope you have enjoyed our blogpost about football lingo. Have you learned anything new? What is your favourite word? Let us know in the comment below! If you want to learn a new language for the World Cup, you should check out our One Minute courses – we have almost all languages from the countries participating in the competition!

¿Cómo te llamas? – Introducing yourself in Spanish – Coffee Break Spanish To Go Episode 1.01

To say “my name is…” in Spanish you say me llamo… In this episode of Coffee Break Spanish To Go, Marina asks the question, ¿Cómo te llamas? (informal) or ¿Cómo se llama usted? (formal). You can use the answers of our interviewees to help you learn to introduce yourself in Spanish.

In the first part of the video, watch the interviews without subtitles and try to understand. In the second part of the video, we’ve provided subtitles in Spanish at the top of the screen. You can choose to turn on subtitles in English using the Subtitles/CC button.

In this first series of Coffee Break Spanish To Go, Marina is in the city of Málaga, in the south of Spain, and in each episode she’ll ask passers-by one question. Of course, that one question will result in many answers, and it’s through these answers that you can practise your Spanish and build your vocabulary.

Coffee Break Spanish To Go will be published every two weeks here on YouTube, and each Season will be filmed in a different part of the Spanish-speaking world.

If you’d prefer not to wait for all 10 lessons of Season 1 to be published, you can access downloadable versions of the videos along with audio versions and lesson notes / transcripts in the Coffee Break Academy.

Coffee Break Spanish To Go is based on the popular podcast series and online course Coffee Break Spanish. For access to the free podcasts, please click here.

Using the French Subjunctive with “pour que” – Walk, Talk and Learn French Episode 001

Are you not sure when to use the subjunctive in French? Join Mark from Coffee Break in this “Walk, Talk and Learn French” video and learn about using the subjunctive after the subjunctive trigger pour que, meaning “so that”. This video was filmed at the 2018 Roland Garros tennis tournament and is based on the tournament’s slogan Pour que nos émotions ne meurent jamais, “so that our excitement never dies”.

In this video, Mark explains that pour que is one of the triggers for the subjunctive. However, while meurent is the subjunctive, it’s interesting to note that it’s actually the same as the indicative form of the verb. Mark goes through the full conjugation of mourir (“to die”) in both the present indicative and the present subjunctive, and he talks about how the present subjunctive is formed by taking the ils/elles plural form of the present indicative and adding the subjunctive endings. Note that mourir is an irregular verb.

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